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Owen Jones and the V&A: Ornament for a Modern Age


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Owen Jones (1809–1874), a prolific architect, designer, illustrator and printer, was recognised during his lifetime as one of the most influential contemporary figures in art and design theory. This insightful book, the latest in the V&A Nineteenth Century Series, explores his relationship with the South Kensington Museum (later the Victoria and Albert Museum), from its inauguration in the 1850s through to his death in 1874. With particular focus on the creation of his celebrated volume The Grammar of Ornament (1856), his decorative scheme for the museum’s so-called ‘Oriental Court’ and the preparation of his lesser-known publication Examples of Chinese Ornament (1867), it offers a fascinating exploration of the identity of the early museum and its imperial context.



"Behind every great Victorian architect is a no less great designer, artist and innovator. None embodied the global enterprise that was Victorian Britain more inventively than Owen Jones. At last he has the recognition he deserves."

- Simon Jenkins, writer, columnist and broadcaster


"incisively written and sumptuously illustrated…"

- Steven Parissien, The Art Newspaper, Number 359, September 2023


Chosen as a TLS Book of the Year 2023 by James Hall. TLS, November 17th 2023.


Olivia Horsfall Turner




28.3cm x 23.7cm



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